Dear Annie: I'm a divorced 52-year-old man. Thanks to the miracle of online dating, I recently started seeing a woman whom I really get along well with. We've been going out for about a month now. There's just one problem: her breath.
It's a very strong odor that I'm not sure how to pinpoint. The best way to describe it is rancid garlic. When she leans in for a kiss, I have to brace myself. I try to pull back and kiss her cheek or neck instead, but she doesn't seem to get it and pulls my face up to hers again. I've tried offering her mints, hoping that sends the message, but she seems oblivious.
I see her brushing her teeth regularly, so it's not that she has terrible personal hygiene. I really don't want to offend her, but I hate feeling as if I'm kissing the armpit of someone who ate garlic bread out of the trash. — Smell You Later
Dear Smell: Nothing kills the mood quite like bad breath. You need to clue your lady friend in to this problem, for your own sake and for hers.
If you wedge the criticism between lots of sincere praise, she should be more willing to accept it. Compliment her, and tell her how attracted you are to her. Then, as kindly as possible, bring up the issue at nose here (without making reference to garbage or armpits).
Armed with this knowledge, she can begin sniffing out the source of the problem. Dry mouth, periodontal disease, sinus infections and dietary choices can all contribute to halitosis, so it may be worth a trip to see the doctor or dentist. She deserves to know the truth, and you deserve a kiss that doesn't make you swoon for all the wrong reasons.
Dear Annie: My birthday is coming up, and one of my favorite bands happens to be playing nearby the day after my birthday. I told my boyfriend, and he immediately said he would get my ticket for me as my birthday present.
Well, it turns out that he has a friend who does publicity for the venue and got us free tickets. That's great, but I can't help but feel a little bothered by the fact that my present was free. It's not that I am materialistic and need a big, expensive gift. But I do want to feel as if he cares enough to spend some money on a gift for me.
Would it be wrong for me to tell him this? I feel so awkward bringing it up. I'm hoping he has enough common sense that he has figured it out on his own and is getting me something else. — On Clearance
Dear Clearance: Silencing your own expectations doesn't make them go away, so it's best to communicate what you want. You feel awkward bringing it up, but if you didn't bring it up, you'd feel resentful, and that would be much more toxic. Express how excited you are about the concert, but let him know it would mean a lot to you if he got you something else for your birthday. You'll feel loved; he'll appreciate not feeling like a bad boyfriend. It's a win-win.
Dear Annie: Usually, I like your (sensible) advice, but I am completely confused by your reply to "Feeling Slighted," who complained about children not opening their gifts in front of all birthday party guests.
"Feeling Slighted" mentioned that the children in question were ages 2 to 6. A child of 6 is old enough to be taught the importance of appreciating all sorts of gifts and to express thanks directly to the giver. This is a social skill sorely lacking in children, and handling a birthday party in this matter further cultivates entitled and unappreciative children.
I feel sorry for those children being raised in such an elitist manner and disappointed you have given the message to your readers with young children that handling events such as birthday parties in this fashion is socially acceptable. — Dismayed
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Photo credit: Maria Eklind